A police community support officer at work

The College of Policing is introducing a new standardised qualifications framework (PEQF) for all 43 police forces in England and Wales.  

For Police Officers, this is enabling the police service to become a graduate profession, like teaching and nursing. Working with Higher Education providers, the College has also developed a full national curriculum to support police community support officer learning,  accredited to a Level 4 HE Certificate in Community Policing Practice.

The new PCSO apprenticeship is set to be introduced in 2022 and will take 12 to 15 months to complete.  It will be a mix of classroom learning, observation, 1:1 tutorship and practical experience. 

All training takes place in Wiltshire and involves in class tests, assignments, evidence based projects and reflection, to test  knowledge and understanding.

The new PCSO qualification has been designed to follow the first year of the Police Constable degree qualification, adapted to focus on community policing.  Should you wish to transition to a Police Constable role once the programme has been completed, this learning and qualification can be mapped over to the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA), which would reduce the time to complete the Police Constable degree, the BSc (Hons) in Professional Policing Practice.

We are delighted to be working in partnership with the University of South Wales co-deliver specialist PCSO training. Wiltshire Police is one of five police forces in the South West and Wales to partner with the University. 

The new PCSO course handbook will soon be available on the University of South Wales website

  • You will need Level 2 Maths and English (GCSE graded 9-4/A*-C or equivalent) before you start the training 
  • You will also need a Level 3 Qualification – such as an A level at grade E and above, or equivalent qualification (16 UCAS points).  If you do not have this qualification, you will be set an assessment paper so we can assess if you should be able to pass the assignments that you will be set during your initial training at the higher level.  This Level 3 equivalent assessment will take place during the initial assessment process.
  • Applicants will need to provide proof of qualifications or commit to achieving them before the completion of the training.
  • Go to the Gov.UK website to find out what the different entry level qualifications mean.
  • You can obtain a replacement exam certificate or certified statement of results via the Gov.UK website
  • The course takes 12-15 months to complete and on completion, successful candidates will be awarded a level 4 HE Certificate in Community Policing Practice
  • We cover all your course fees


A one-year professional apprenticeship.


PCSO Apprenticeship starting salary and maximum salary to be confirmed

Is this the route for you?

Yes, if you would like to work in the role of a Police Community Support Officer, while studying for a level 4 qualification.

Before you start

To be accepted, candidates must meet the Force's PCSO eligibility criteria and successfully pass all stages of the PCSO recruitment process.

What's involved in training?

It is a minimum of 12-month programme, including academic modules, practical's, course work and exams. You will do this while serving as a student PCSO, with active frontline duties. 

What's involved in the practical side of the training?

During your initial training period, you will have some practical courses including First Aid, Personal Safety Training and Driver Training. 

You will also have observation days where you will be out in the community, observing the Community Policing teams in action. 

Following your initial training you will have one to one a tutorship period, which will lead you Independent Patrol Status. (IPS).

Once IPS is confirmed, you will be posted to a Community Policing Team where you will continue to collect evidence towards your Operational Competence Portfolio as well as completing assignments.

What's involved in the Academic training?

The academic training is given by Wiltshire Police staff in Wiltshire, with a blended approach which includes classroom training, on-line training, self- study and self-reflection.

The key areas of study are:

  • Understanding the PCSO role
  • Valuing difference and inclusion
  • Maintaining professional standards
  • Decision making and discretion
  • Communication skills
  • Wellbeing and resilience
  • Team working
  • Managing conflict
  • Vulnerability and risk
  • Information and intelligence
  • Problem solving
  • Evidence based policing
  • Victims and witnesses
  • Criminal Justice
  • Supporting communities and partnership building Response policing
  • Dealing with minor crime

Alongside these modules you will be expected to maintain a reflective journal, to gather evidence of experiences to create an Occupational Portfolio, and complete an end-point assessment to achieve the qualification which will involve a professional discussion and a presentation of a community based problem solving assignment ( development and delivery of a 15 minute presentation followed by 10 mins of Q and A)


The academic learning is in partnership with our Higher Education Institute Partner, the University of South Wales (USW), who set the in-class-tests and assignments, they are also responsible for the final award of the qualification.


Apprentices will receive support from an USW tutor with academic studies and from Wiltshire Police officers and staff with your operational role.

You will have regular meetings to discuss your progress and any support you feel you could benefit from with your line manager within the Force.

If there are any additional requirements (reasonable adjustments) needed to support your learning, there will be a needs assessment during the recruitment process.  The Positive Action team can provide additional support for BAME candidates and those with Protected Characteristics who may need extra support.


The academic costs of this qualification are covered by the apprenticeship.

Will I be a serving officer as well as training?

Yes, you will be a PCSO from day 1 and for much of your time you will be in Force on frontline duties.

How much time will I spend studying in a classroom?

The apprenticeship mixes on-the-job training with off-the-job learning. During the first 12 weeks, you will have a mix of classroom and practical learning. After that, your experience will be mostly out of the classroom.

Will someone support me with my learning?

Yes, each recruit will be allocated a tutor. They will support you via email and face-to-face meetings.

What will I be assessed on?

Your practical work, assessments, course work, exams and end-point-assessment, following the USW curriculum for a level 4 HE Certificate in Community Policing Practice.

How long is my probation?

Probation is for 12 months. However the full training must be successfully completed and the qualification awarded.  If this is not achieved, the Wiltshire Police Performance and Capability process will be followed which may result in  dismissal.

What is the recruitment process before I start the Apprenticeship?

Before you start, you will be required to successfully pass the Assessment process, which tests for initial abilities including common sense approaches and reading and writing skills.   You will also need to pass vetting and fitness tests before being enrolled onto the programme.

An assessment of academic need will take place to establish if you have any additional support needs (such as if you have dyslexia).

You will also be assessed to ensure that you are capable of achieving a Level 4 Qualification if you do not already have an A Level or equivalent qualification, totalling 60 UCAS points.  Please note places are limited in each intake and enrolment is subject to availability. Candidates may experience a waiting period before being offered a place.

What age do I have to be to apply?

Applicants need to be 18 or older when you start training.

I don't want to study; can I join under the old scheme?

No, the old scheme is closed to new applicants, and will be replaced by the Apprenticeship for new students from 2022 onwards.

I don't have both Level 2 qualifications; can I still apply?

No, as you will be taking an apprenticeship and studying for a Level 4 qualification, you are required to have the minimum qualifications. There are free courses available to you to gain the Level 2 Maths and English.

Please see the Educational Requirements section for more information.

Do I have to attend a university for lectures?

No, all the training takes place in Wiltshire, lessons are at a Wiltshire Police site usually at Police Headquarters in Devizes, or may be delivered online

Do I have to pay for the qualification?

No, your qualification will be funded as part of the apprenticeship.